Culture Smart! Indonesia: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

It is practically impossible to avoid witnessing some aspect of Balinese ritual life during even a short stay in Bali. Apart from the performances put on for tourists, you may come across a procession, a celebration, or votaries offering gifts at a shrine. Hinduism on Bali is distinctly Balinese, with pre-Hindu beliefs, spirits, and rituals incorporated into it. It is also capable of embracing new deities and forms of worship so that it remains a living system of belief, in the same way that Balinese art, drama, and dance subtly adapt without losing their distinctive style or becoming outdated.

Balinese life is guided by ritual. The religious calendar and observances structure the day, the year, and life itself. The traditional Balinese house is itself a religious structure in which the family shrine to the ancestors has a central role. Family members live in pavilions around the common courtyard and share a common kitchen and the family temple, which houses the shrine to the ancestors and those to the other deities.

Balinese life is communal. Ritual is subsumed into daily living, within the home and in the village community. A village (desa) is divided into smaller cooperative neighborhood groups known as banjar, whose members are obliged to support each other during festivals, marriages, and funerals. Each banjar has a bale or communal hall, a drum tower from which meetings are called, a communal kitchen for preparing the feasts accompanying celebrations and performances, a gamelan orchestra, dance costumes, and a communal temple.

Read our guide for more on traditions and ritual life in Indonesia.

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781857333435
    • Author: Graham Saunders
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99




Culture Smart! Nepal: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture

In the popular imagination, Nepal is a land of eternal snow, where heroic mountaineers and Sherpas valiantly plant flags on the roof of the world, or perish in the attempt. And yet there is far more to discover in this country, not least the great variety of its cultural, ethnic, and religious weave.

Culture Smart! Nepal introduces you to the people who make up this vibrant human mosaic, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. It seeks to explain the complexities of Nepali life, from the home, to the marketplace, to the office, and describes how the country’s geography and history have helped shaped contemporary society, and how religion has defined its social structures.

Whatever the reason for your visit, understanding the values, attitudes, and lifestyle of the people will help you to go beyond the friendly smiles and turn your visit into an enlightening and more rewarding experience. Namaste!

Excerpt from the guide:

“Age is not a cause for embarrassment in Nepal. Rather, it is a source of great respect. So valued is the attainment of age that it is reflected in the forms of address used when speaking even to complete strangers.

Adopting these forms of address while in Nepal will be received as a sign of respect by the person you are speaking to and express that you have taken time to familiarize yourself with the local customs, something that will greatly please your hosts.

If you perceive the person you are speaking to be older than you are, you can call them “Didi,” meaning older sister, or “Dai,” older brother. Or, if you perceive them to be younger than you, you can call them “Bhai” meaning younger brother, or “Bahini,” younger sister.

Similarly, when addressing someone of any age or gender who you want to show respect towards, you can attach the suffix “-jee” to the end of the person’s name. For example, Kiran-jee, or Chantin-jee.

Indeed, in Nepal it is the value of mutual respect that has allowed the many different ethnic, cultural, and religious communities to coexist here peacefully for centuries.”

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028722
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 15mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

We may not be able to travel right now, but that needn’t stop us starting to explore the world again…

Japan is often thought of as a “far away” country where they do things differently, and this is indeed true. The Japanese, have, for example, a unique language not shared by any other group of people, and a unique religion – Shinto. Yet Japan is becoming increasingly “Western” in its norms, expectations, and way of life. Furthermore, Japan today participates more widely in the international arenas of sport, music, food, fashion, design, robotics, R&D collaboration, overseas aid, and “soft power” diplomacy than ever before.

However, despite this pursuit of modern living, the core values of traditional Japan – a sense of duty rather than of rights, the pursuit of harmony as an instinctive need at all levels of society, and respect for each other throughout life – not least in old age – endure. The visitor should be aware that notions of “uniqueness” also endure in the Japanese psyche. Japan is one of the most pleasant and safest countries to live in; it has one of the best medical infrastructures and enjoys the longest life expectancy in the world.

Japan functions mainly as a consensus-based society, but Japanese genius and eccentricity point to an unexpected strand of individualism. This new, updated edition of Culture Smart! Japan provides information and insights into people’s attitudes and behavior and practical advice to help you discover the brilliance and charm of this complex, rich, and dynamic society.

For more:

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781787028920
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 200
    • Dimensions: 170 x 110 x 13mm
    • Published at: £9.99 / $12.99 / CAN $17.99

5 Tips on Being a Good Guest in Laos

Hello Travellers,

To mark the publication of our brand new Culture Smart! Laos guide we have put together a short list of tips on how to be a good guest when visiting this beautiful and fascinating country. Visiting foreign countries can be a cultural minefield, and though many may be forgiving of visitors who don’t know better, we believe that a little practical cultural knowledge will not only impress your hosts, but will also help you to have a more meaningful and enriching experience. Enjoy!

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Wednesday Wanderlust – 10 Values and Attitudes of Central Asia

This week’s Wednesday Wanderlust takes us to Central Asia for a look at the values and attitudes celebrated among these nations:


  • Superstitions – Ill-wishing neighbours can cause you harm by placing sand or broken needles in fornt of your house. A mullah, or any old person, can help to avert the evil eye or bad luck, cure the sick, mend a relationship, and so on, by reading a prayer in Arabic.

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Title Announcement – Culture Smart! Hong Kong (Jan 2018)

Culture Smart! Hong Kong: The essential guide to customs & culture.

Visitors marvel at Hong Kong’s breathtaking location, its amazing architecture, its exciting shopping, and its fine dining. And yet it is a land of opposites—of order juxtaposed with chaos, of ancient etiquette and seemingly abrupt manners, a place where rich and poor live in close proximity.

Culturally, Hong Kong is rooted in the traditions of China, but there is more than a patina of Westernization. And despite stiff competition, it remains the principal international financial center in China. Hong Kong has more holidays than anywhere in the world, and most are celebrated in the streets or parks.

Culture Smart! Hong Kong introduces the reader to this vibrant, multifaceted society. It provides helpful advice and cultural insights on business practice and social etiquette. Published in January 2018, it is available in North America through IPG.

Author Bios:

Vickie Chan is a writer, illustrator/artist, and creative director, who has written for the South China Morning Post, China Daily, Gafencu magazine, and more.

Clare Vickers has a degree in modern languages, has written several dictionaries and textbooks for Hong Kong schools, and had a column in the educational section of the South China Morning Post.

Culture Smart! Hong Kong: The essential guide to customs & culture.

ISBN: 978-1-857-33869-0
TRADE PAPER: (UK) £7.99; (US/CA) $11.99/$15.99
PAGES: 168, SIZE: 169 x 110 mm